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Faith WoodNot all of us are living happily ever after.

Are you surprised?

I didn’t think so!

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, the opposite might also be true about too much time spent together in close quarters.

A former colleague recently told me that call volumes for domestic disputes are on the rise. This is undoubtedly due to partners confined to small spaces with one, or both, being laid off.

Tensions are high even though some have been told they soon could return to work. Many others won’t and this can add even more stress.

Now imagine there are children all scrambling for attention. It’s loud, you’re tired, and everybody is struggling with uncertainty and fear.

In the absence of effective coping and communication skills, is it surprising that arguments are escalating into pushing and shoving?

Besides creating an economic crisis, our response to COVID-19 is bringing significant conflict into some homes.

Of course, not everyone is struggling. For some, all this forced togetherness has brought a deeper connection, love and respect for each other. They’re the lucky ones.

Is the quality of a relationship built solely on luck or is there a recipe you can follow that will help improve your odds?

This got me recalling when I first taught my children to cook. One of the most valuable tips came about accidentally, when I showed them how to salvage a recipe that was failing. Sometimes all a recipe needs is some spice or a extra ingredient that raises it up a notch.

The best place to start with any recipe going awry is to determine what was initially omitted or what might be added to improve the flavour. This comes from a lifetime of trial and error. The more practise you have, the easier it is to identify adaptations needed.

Let’s take that concept into the relationship arena. (As a TQ master coach, I’m borrowing this content from our Marriage on Purpose training, with permission.)

Begin by assessing the quality of your current relationship – where would you put it on this grid?

Toxic Struggling Mediocre Average Good Great Exceptional

The exceptional relationship offers a life of pure job, a true success by every measure. It’s the ultimate reflection of a high-energy, conviction-driven partnership.

The great relationship is a life spent in the pursuit of happiness. It’s highly successful but with room to grow. And growth is inspiring to both of you!

The average relationship offers a life where satisfaction is the key word – satisfaction with money, the house you live in, your toys, your career, the way your kids are growing up.

Everything seems to be okay but remember what average means: the best of the worst (mediocre) or the worst of the best (good).

The struggling relationship offers a life where there are serious ups and downs. There’s not a lot of happiness or satisfaction with anything; you struggle for balance, for money, with career direction – everything is a real struggle.

This partnership is a low-energy, pessimistic endurance test where indifference rules. You may have some good reasons for continuing but big changes must be made to ensure you don’t drop to toxic.

The toxic relationship is filled with venom, acrimony and hate. Your most cherished dreams don’t come true; your worst nightmares do. You don’t just live under the threat of a restraining order, you’re praying that order will be strictly enforced.

For some people, it’s very easy to see where they are on this continuum. For others, it might not be so clear. Either way, taking a moment to consider your relationship is the first step in recognizing how to improve the recipe.

If you want to prevent becoming a statistic, consider taking the free marriage test from ThinkTQ. Once you complete your TQ Marriage Test, you will not identify which category you fall into, you’ll know exactly what you must do next to improve your recipe.

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly,” Sam Keen wrote in To Love and Be Loved.

If you want more out of your partnership, the first step is taking a moment to stop and think.

Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.

© Troy Media

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